St. Louis County Election Board On Guard Against Hackers

Electronic touchscreen machines called "tamper-proof."

Kevin Killeen
October 30, 2018 - 3:49 pm
St. Louis County Board of Elections.

(Kevin Killeen, KMOX)

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) - County election officials say they're ready to run a good, clean election without any hacking.

With the biggest block of registered voters in the state – 670,000 – St. Louis County might seem like a tempting target for would-be hackers.

But Republican Director of Elections Rick Stream says the voting machines cannot be manipulated from someone, someplace else.

"None of our machines are ever online, whether it's paper ballots or touchscreen," Stream said.

Asked if someone could hack into the machines through the air, through something similar to Wi-Fi, Stream says none of the machines have any type of receiver that would allow that.

When the voting machines aren't deployed in the field for election day, Stream says they're not sitting around where people could tamper with them.

"All of our machines are locked up. We have 24-7 security on them, double locks, a Republican and Democratic lock," Stream said, "If you've seen in our warehouse, the fence goes to the ceiling, so nobody can get in there."

Stream says he and Democratic Director of Elections Eric Fey are so concerned about voter security, they both refuse to leave the election headquarters building even during a fire drill.

"The fire marshal gets mad at us and I told him," Stream said, "'I'm not leaving because we have our machines here; we have voter information on the desks. We're not leaving here.'"

The only recent episode of attempted hacking that Stream recalls was in 2016.  He says somebody tried, but failed to hack into the county election board's email system. Since then, he says, there have been no further attempts that he knows of.

Stream says they're in a "very good position" to prevent hacking and meddling in Tuesday's big election. Some 1,800 touchscreen voting machines will be deployed at the county's more than 400 polling places.